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Tortorella: 'My job is, I'm going to push athletes'


After a series of headline-grabbing remarks over the past month, Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella spoke for more than 15 minutes Wednesday on his coaching philosophy and attempt to push the team to a playoff spot.

Over the past three weeks, Tortorella scratched newly named captain Sean Couturier for two games, walked off when asked about a performance from goaltender Felix Sandstrom, apologized for that reaction, and called out the team as a whole for a "soft" performance Monday in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders. He was also suspended for two games and fined $50,000 on March 10 for unprofessional conduct after refusing to the leave the bench following an ejection against the Tampa Bay Lightning

While some have questioned if the 65-year-old's act is growing tired in his second season with the team, Tortorella has no plans to change his ways as the Flyers fight to end a three-year playoff drought.

"It comes down to, ‘Oh, they're going to quit on him.’ It follows me around. And so be it. If a player is going to quit on me, or players are going to quit on me because I'm trying to make them better people or better athletes, you've got the wrong damn coach here, and you're got the wrong damn people here," Tortorella said. "My job is, I'm going to push athletes.

"I try to stay away from... I have other things on my mind that I don't give you. I was in control the other night. What I said, I meant. And, quite honestly, when I watch the tape now I'm more concerned than just the second period. Because of, I'm so proud of the team getting here. I guess now the narrative out there is I've heard from other people (is): They're young. They're not supposed to be here. Bulls--t. We're here. We're here. Face it. And let's be better. And I don't think we're ready to be better, and that's my problem with us right now. And it is my job - I have not done a good enough job to get them over the hump. I haven't done a good enough job to make them understand we have to be different now.

"We have to be at a different level. That's my frustration with me, and that's my frustration with the team. And if people can't handle it, so be it."

Despite being in a rebuild, the Flyers have held a playoff spot throughout the majority of this season, but their grip has slipped significantly amid a five-game winless skid.

The Washington Capitals are just one point back in the race for third in the Metropolitan Division with two games in hand on the Flyers, and, in the wild-card race, the Detroit Red Wings are one point back with one game in hand.

Tortorella elected to pull goaltender Samuel Ersson after two goals in the span of just 18 seconds in the first period Monday's loss, turning to the untested Ivan Fedotov to play the rest of the game after joining the team just days prior. Fedotov allowed one goal over the final 47-plus minutes of regulation, with Morgan Frost tying the game at 3-3 with 10 seconds left,

"One guy played, the goalie [Fedotov]," Tortorella said after the overtime loss. “There are certain people that they don’t have a clue how to play, or just don’t have it in them to play in these types of situations, ”

"That was embarrassing in the second period for the Philadelphia Flyer uniform the way we played.”

The Flyers are off until Friday, when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for the first of a four-game road trip before closing their season with two games at home, including Game 82 against the Capitals.